METS able to provide Maryland horse owners another resource for transition options
LISBON, Md. — The Maryland Horse Council’s Maryland Equine Transition Service has been fully operational for just over five months.
In that short time, though, the nonprofit program has posted impressive numbers demonstrating the ongoing need for its popular service to the Maryland horse community.
The METS program emerged from an August 2017 brainstorming session and was funded, beginning in January 2018, by a three-year grant from The Right Horse Initiative.
“Although we were not in full effect until August, we have been taking phone calls since March, shortly after we received the grant,” said Carrie Hull, the Maryland Horse Council’s executive director.
Hull added its program director, Brittney Carow has “fielded over 100 phone calls and emails for owners needing assistance.” She also has conducted 30 visits and assessed 61 horses of all types, facing all sorts of situations.
Last, but most importantly, “since August, METS has played a role in placing nine horses,” said Carow. “Two additional horses, were able to stay current owners due in part to METS’ involvement.
“The horses, which METS helps place, are all within Maryland,” Carow added, “but their placement is open to anyone in the METS network.”
That network has begun to expand and include members of the equine community throughout the Mid-Atlantic states, such as Michelle Craig, an owner of Westwind Farms, in Upperville, Va.
In their “most successful transition,” according to Carow, “Craig took in Understanding, a gorgeous eight-year-old, 17 hand, registered off-the-track Thoroughbred mare. Understanding, along with four other Thoroughbreds, needed assistance from METS with finding a home after their owner passed away.”
Craig, who “starts young horses under saddle, saw Understanding in a post on a Retired Racehorse Project Facebook page and quickly inquired about her because, on paper, she (the horse) seemed like a good prospect.”
Conversations with Understanding’s trainer and the manager at the farm where Understanding was staying seemed to reinforce Craig’s initial feeling that Understanding would be a good fit for Westwind Farm.
“I went up the next day and brought my trailer with me,” said Craig.
An equine professional, who “has a lot of experience going to racetracks and making decisions quickly,” Craig found Understanding to be a “very quiet-minded, very intelligent horse. She’s rare in that she accepts every situation.”
That quiet acceptance came to the fore when Craig was bringing Understanding home and got stuck in traffic. She said she realized she would not have enough time to go back to her farm, unload Understanding and then go back to pick up her children at school.
“So, I just took her to the school, said Craig. “When my daughter, who is in kindergarten, and her friends asked to meet my new horse, I took them over in groups of twos and threes. Understanding stood there in the trailer and met them all.”
Adding to Understanding’s stellar qualities, Craig said she found the METS application “an easy process to go through and I love that METS will screen buyers before purchase. That protects the horse.”
Indeed, such protection is the ultimate goal of the METS program.
“The challenge that we face is that METS does not own the horses,” Hull said, “but we try to offer as much assistance as possible” to re-home the horses.
In discussing the challenge of older horses, Hull noted “we still consider an appropriate transition to be an appropriate end of life decision. We hope we are changing the atmosphere around that decision.”
“Emotion plays a huge role in not wanting to make that decision,” added Carow. “We care about the situation and we care about the horse; but, we don’t have the emotional tie so we can help the owners see that it is the most logical humane decision.”
“We’re asking the owners the questions that get their wheels turning,” Carow continued. “We’re asking ‘What’s your Plan B if Plan A – re-homing – doesn’t work out’ and they are realizing it’s a sound decision.”
Having the owner make the decision is a critical aspect of METS’s mission, Carow said.
“We’re trying to be the step before it gets to the point of animal control having to step in,” she said.
They also are hoping that the more they can get the METS name out and about, the more they’ll be able to not only change more experienced riders’ perspectives about where to find their next horse, but also increase opportunities to place horses in their growing program.
Explained Carow, “We provide a nuts-to-bolts type of facilitation with placement transition for the Maryland horse community, giving the owners hope and even making a dent in the burden placed on the horse rescues.”
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925